Film Review: Sometimes Always Never

STUDIO: Blue Fox Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Carl Hunter | SCREENWRITER: Frank Cottrell Boyce | CAST: Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, Alice Lowe, Jenny Agutter, Tim McInnerny
SPECS: PG-13 | 91 min. | Drama mystery comedy

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

Can you play the word jazz in Scrabble? The answer to that burning question can be found in the whimsical new film Sometimes Always Never.

Not to be confused with the recent Never Rarely Sometimes Always – an equally wonderful must-see film – Sometimes Always Never is an offbeat comedy with dramatic undertones that tells the story of Alan (Bill Nighy, Hope Gap), a tailor, who has spent years searching tirelessly for his missing son Michael, who stormed out over a game of Scrabble, while seemingly ignoring the relationship with his youngest, Peter (Sam Riley, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies). As the two set out on yet another quest to search for the prodigal son, Alan begins to think his current online Scrabble adversary could very well be him.

Bill Nighy in Sometimes Always Never

Alan is drawn to the game stating, “Part of the fun is the magic of lovely words.” Words which he crafts meticulously on the Scrabble board, yet is at a loss to use when in the presence of Peter, who has all but given up on having a real connection to his father. Their relationship is defined by one inexplicable family moment, seemingly locked in time until Michael is found or they reach a final breaking point.

Nighy is in his element relishing the role of a droll, uncompromising patriarch while Riley balances him out with sweet emotional touches. Alice Lowe (Hot Fuzz), Jenny Agutter (Glorious 39) and Tim McInnerny (The Hippopotamus) round out a cast of strong supporting performers.

But it’s the look of the film that I most enjoyed. First-time feature director Carl Hunter (A Winter’s Tale: Shakespeare Lives) brings a stylized touch to an idiosyncratic script by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Code 46), which make even the Scrabble scenes more vibrant than one would expect.  Hunter is a big fan of filmmakers like Aki Kaurismäki, Milos Forman and Wes Anderson and you can certainly see their influence at play.  Visually speaking, the quadrant framing, done so well in shows like Mr. Robot and Queen Sugar, works perfectly here as it easily communicates the quirky nature of the storyline. And kudos to cinematographer Richard Stoddard for bathing the film in a luxuriously muted jewel tone color palette.

Sometimes Always Never is yet another tale about the turbulent father and son relationship but it is wrapped in a clever, amusing package that is worth unwrapping.

Following its virtual theatrical release, Sometimes Always Never will be available on Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and other platforms.

About Janine

Janine is a dedicated fan of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle, directed by Sam Wood, written by Dalton Trumbo and starring Ginger Rogers, who won an Oscar for her portrayal. And seeing that film is all it took to make her a lifelong movie lover. Janine is excited to add her insights to the great team at